Deficit Reduction or Debt ?

These days the media seems to be very confused. They use the term Deficit and Debt interchangeably, and they are not the same thing (in terms of government spending).

In terms of Governments, a Deficit, usually describes how much more was spent than collected in taxes. It is usually measured over a yearly budget. If the deficit is zero, that means the government is taking in funds sufficient to pay for all the spending they have done for the year (this may include payments to service existing debts).

The 2019 federal debt is: $ 683,290,000,000.00 (according to Stats Canada)

Debt, on the other hand for a government is the amount the government owes, in terms of moneys borrowed over a long period of time. Deficit financing (or the accumulation of debt) for Canada started in the late 1960’s.

The federal deficit in 2017 was: $ 7.8 Billion (according to Stats Canada)

I was confused when the CBC had the headline, B.C. posts $1.5B operating debt, they have since revised the title, realizing their mistake. Their tweet remains mistaken:

Your Deficit and Debt

A personal deficit (or surplus), would be something you measure monthly. Did you spend more this month than you made? If you have more or a surplus, then you can put more money on your debt (overall debt), or save the surplus.

Your Debt is the sum total of all the money you owe. Your debt will slow your ability to enjoy your life. You cannot save for:

While you can have occasional monthly deficits, the goal is to have a yearly surplus. The other goal is to pay down debt as soon as possible, and that should be the main goal of your surpluses.

Seems straight forward, doesn’t it? Also seems that this isn’t really a topic for the current election.

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RDSP and Budget 2019

Budget 2019 is finally out, and it has a whole treasure trove of goodies. It is truly an election year budget with promises of the future (if you reelect the current government).

I will allow much smarter folks to comment on other areas, but for Registered Disability Savings Plan there are two nice mentions.

RDSP Exempt from Seizure in Bankruptcies

Doug Hoyes and I talked about this on his podcast, but now it looks to be officially in grained in the system.

“Unlike RRSPs, amounts held in RDSPs are not exempt from seizure by creditors in bankruptcy. To level the playing field, Budget 2019 also proposes to exempt RDSPs from seizure in bankruptcy, with the exception of contributions made in the 12 months before the filing.” 

Budget 2019 Canada

I assume the bankruptcy laws may be changed one day, but this seems quite clear. The past 12 months of payments being not exempt makes sense as well.

RDSP Pay Back if DTC Lost

This has always been a big problem, and with the CRA cancelling DTCs left and right this is a good thing.

“To address concerns that this treatment does not appropriately recognize the financial impact that periods of severe, but episodic, disability can have on individuals, Budget 2019 proposes to eliminate the requirement to close an RDSP when a beneficiary no longer qualifies for the DTC. Doing so will allow grants and bonds otherwise required to be repaid to the Government to remain in the RDSP. To ensure fairness for DTC-eligible beneficiaries, some restrictions on access to these amounts will apply. The estimated cost of this measure is $109 million over five years, beginning in 2019–20, and $33 million per year ongoing. “

Budget 2019

Previously you had a short period of time where you had to pay back all grants and bonds, now you can leave the money there. I assume if you try to take money out you would have to pay back grants and bonds (and pay tax on any growth). There still is a few fine points to clarify here.

RDSP Not Forgotten

Glad to see the RDSP is not forgotten in the budget. Curious to see what the Loyal Opposition has to say about these areas come election time?

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Phoenix Pay System Side Swipe

As most Canadians hear every few weeks, the pay  system for the federal Civil Service has been updated, and the new system (called Phoenix) has had many problems, which has caused many serious problems for Civil Servants. These issues are being addressed, but there are still many issues with the new system. I am not affected by this system.

Folks have had to declare bankruptcy, have seen their credit rating destroyed, defaulted on mortgages, and many other serious issues. Who is to blame? I won’t touch on that point, but there is plenty of blame to go around.

phoenix pay system

One of the side effects is that the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign has suffered. Most Civil Servants are petrified to make any change that would cause their Phoenix profile to change. Evidently profile changes have caused Phoenix Issues (like stoppage of pay, wild changes in pay levels, etc.,).

Charities Paying the Price

This paralysis of profiles has meant that folks have not enrolled in the GCWCC or increased their charitable donations either. Many folks haven’t done this because they are recovering from Phoenix Issues, but still more are just afraid of what the changes might cause.

Let us hope the pay system issues with Phoenix are resolved (I say that both as a taxpayer and a Civil Servant) soon. I know the charities in Ottawa are hoping for resolution soon as well.

 

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A Personal Spending Surplus ?

Before the previous Federal Election, the Tories claimed they had a “surplus” I read over the Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada Fiscal Year 2014–2015 is the statement of the National Debt and saw that one of the ways a surplus was possible in the fiscal year 2014-15 was by ministries delaying spending, which made me wonder if it would be possible to do the same thing with our own personal finances?

Debt Subliminal

This is NOT a Debt Reduction Plan

If we take a young family, with a Home Line of Credit which holds the debt on their house (as opposed to a regular mortgage). This young family goes to a financial planner, who tells them they needed to cut down on their spending and get to a point where what they spend is less than what they earn (similar to the concept of this government’s surplus).

The family is lucky in that their Home Line of Credit’s minimum payment is the Interest Charge for that Month (and luckily their Line of Credit interest rate is nice and low). The young family does have a lot of expenses, with small children, car payments and a large amount of discretionary spending (and the debt that accrued because of that spending). The family decides the best way to reach the zen of spending less than they earn is by not paying down their largest debt (their house), so that they can pay for all of their other spending (cars, vacations, nice clothes, cable, etc.,).

This idea actually works well (assuming the bank doesn’t call the line of credit and ask for all of their money), in that the family is not spending more than they make, but there is a problem. Their debt load isn’t actually dropping, and they will eventually have to pay down the debt on their house, which is a huge problem. An even bigger problem will be when interest rates go up, so in the end, this family is living in a financial fool’s paradise.

In Real Life

At the end of it, the Tories “surplus” didn’t really come to fruition, and thanks to a new Government, we are back to deficit financing programs and such, but there are promises of balancing a budget some time soon. This might well be how our example family ends up as well (i.e. much farther in debt).

Remember as I always say, Hey we got extra money, let’s spend it! (No, I don’t I am being sarcastic).

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Direct Deposit Enrolment for Government Benefits

Government Cheques will be going away ( very soon), and you can easily sign up for direct deposit, if you can remember your on-line banking.

Life of a Government Cheque

Journey of a Government Cheque

How hard is it? Let’s just walk through it for you.

First question to answer is, do you receive Government Cheques for any reason? You sure? Check this web page which has a list of all the different folks that can send you cheques, which include:

You sure you don’t receive any of these?

How To Do It

Next, congratulations! You have figured out you need to set up direct deposit (the first step to solving any problem is admitting you have a problem). How can you fix this? Click on any of those links above and you will be told how, however, let’s try a different way of doing things, let’s go to the CRA and check out how your Tax Refund might be done.

  1. Go to your CRA MyAccount page  (link on that page). What the hell is a MyAccount? Don’t worry, you don’t need to create one, you can simply log in with your On-Line Banking credentials (if you don’t have on-line banking I would strongly suggest going to a Services Canada Office to set things up).
  2. Log into CRA My Account with your on-line banking credentials
  3. If you have done things right you will then be at a home page that will have many different and wonderful things you can do with the CRA. Select the Accounts and Payment tab
  4. Voila here is where you set up your direct deposit, or alter it so that it goes to a different account, or stop it from being deposited (although why you would do that I do not know).

It is just that simple people, so why haven’t you set it up yet? Get off your duff and do it!

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